- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 11, 2001

The love of building design has kept Harold Fisher working for 85 years.
At 100, the architect is believed to be the oldest practicing designer in the country. He was in town yesterday to receive the Green Thumb Inc.'s annual "America's Oldest Worker" award.
"I never had dying in my mind at all because I love my work and spent so much time at the office," said Mr. Fisher at a news conference fittingly held at the American Institute of Architects in downtown. "And since it's my company, they can't fire me."
Mr. Fisher started Harold H. Fisher & Associates in 1945 when he and his family moved to Detroit.
His career began in 1916 as the understudy of a church architect in Uniontown, Pa., earning $2 a day. He went on to design hundreds of churches and other religious buildings.
"When you have something you love to do, it keeps you alive," said Mr. Fisher. "You might say I'm retired now and doing what I love to do, but I'm still working."
He is married to his second wife, Maria, who is 77. He has 22 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Among the few to have lived through both world wars, Mr. Fisher is the fourth recipient of the Oldest Worker award, a program the Green Thumb started in order to highlight the role of elderly workers.
The award focuses on "a group that exemplifies the positive work ethic, experience, loyalty and dependability so important to the demands of the work force," said Andrea Wooten, president of the Green Thumb, an Arlington nonprofit group that provides job training and placement for senior citizens and lobbies on their behalf.
Older workers are a significant part of today's work force, said Claire Hushbeck, an economist for the America Association Retired Persons.
"We're making the case that we're going to need more of these people in the labor force in the future, and more of them will be in it because … pensions and social securities are going to be providing less income for people stretching into the next decades," Ms. Hushbeck said. "So they will have to stay employed, at least part time, later in life than their parents did."
Mr. Fisher loves to work, and he keeps his body in shape by working out regularly at a health club. His mental-workout routine is even more rigorous, at six- to eight-hour work days.
"Your brain is like a muscle: If you don't exercise it vigorously, it becomes weak," he said, also advising young workers to find a job they like and stick to it.
So what's his secret to living to 100?
"I guess, don't die," he joked.
Mr. Fisher's proudest accomplishment is the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Detroit. The project covering 81/2 acres and made up of a Georgian church, offices, a school, fellowship hall and a chapel "to this day remains timeless in architectural beauty together with high-tech functionality," he said.
"I take great joy in creating artistic simplicity in church design, which I hope will help bring people into the church."
A regular church-goer, Mr. Fisher entered numerous religious facilities designs to scholarship contests in his youth. Blueprints of his work dating to 1929 through 1932 were displayed yesterday along with later projects by the architect.

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